ST. CHARLES, Mo. -- TRW Inc.'s Cutting Edge Optronics (CEO) subsidiary here claims it has developed the world's first laser source prototype that could enable production-worthy lithography tools, based on extreme ultraviolet (EUV) technology.
TRW's new and "breakthrough" laser source could accelerate the deployment of EUV lithography tools in production fabs by several months--if not possibly years, according to analysts.
The company has built a high-performance EUV laser prototype in the lab, with plans to deliver a production version by mid-2003, said Vic Bunze, director of marketing at TRW's CEO subsidiary, based in St. Charles. "That will get you into production with an EUV tool," Bunze told SBN in a recent interview.
Geared to produce chips at 70-nm (0.07-micron) and below, EUV and other next-generation lithography (NGL) technologies were supposedly not expected to hit the production fabs until 2007--or later, according to analysts.
It's still unclear if or when EUV tools will move into production fabs--even with TRW's new laser source. But the company's new product is a much-needed "breakthrough" in NGL.
One of the major problems with EUV is today's laser sources, which cannot generate enough power for a production tool.TRW and other vendors in the past have demonstrated laser sources at 25 watts and below, but a production-worthy EUV tool requires some 50 watts of power, analysts said.
Now, TRW claims it has developed a single 4,000-watt source module. The company intends to combine three of these 4,000-watt models in the same enclosure, thereby producing 12,000 watts of power. The module has been integrated with the company's xenon jet target technology to produce EUV output.
In a production-worthy EUV tool within a fab, the 12,000-watt source "would end up generating 100 watts of clean power," Bunze said. "By the time you filter the power, you could have 50 watts of power," he said.
TRW still faces several challenges on the technical front. "We have a prototype target, but there's still a lot of work to be done," he acknowledged. There are some business issues as well. Cymer and a dozen other companies are also developing EUV laser sources as well, it was noted.
TRW is no stranger to the technology. The company's first-generation laser source was used in an alpha EUV tool developed by a U.S.-based consortium, dubbed the Extreme Ultraviolet LLC (see Feb. 14 story ).
The EUV LLC is a U.S.-led consortium backed by Advanced Micro Devices, IBM, Infineon, Intel, Micron, Motorola, and U.S. national labs. Sandia. Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley are also part of the group.
Raising the bar for NGL sources, TRW recently demonstrated a 1500-watt laser module for EUV (see March 26 story ).